Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

When sheep return to the fold

"Cult Survivor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 2, 2019:

107. brucelevy

I agree that somebody has to have some type of delusion to be a FOF member these days, but in my opinion there is more than that: there is comfort.

When I left the FOF in 2016 the average age of the membership was 58 (I had access to that information through a person that was in the FOF board at the time). Since to my knowledge there was no influx of young members after my departure, we can assume that the current average age is around 60 years old. Many members have been in the cult 20, 30 and some even 40 years. After all that time in the cult, there is really no where to go, specially for the aging community at Apollo, which is basically an “spiritual” nursery home. Many members own property there and most already picked their spots at the Apollo cemetery. Leaving the cult is not an option for them.

On a related topic, another information that I got from that person that was a board member is that 80% of the income at Apollo comes from “Robert’s events” since the vast majority of the aging members at Apollo make minimum donations. Considering that Burton is also the only redeemer of the so-called “vouchers” that are the currency used for free labor (1 voucher = 6 hours of work = 1 meeting with Burton), it will be interesting to see what will happen when Burton stops teaching because of health issues or death.

My prediction is that when Burton dies or becomes too ill to host events a war between the Dorian-Rowena and the Asaf-Holman factions will start. I’m aware that Asaf Braverman was expelled from the FOF and sent to “the end of the Ray of Creation” by Burton, but most people have a positive opinion of him (better than Dorian’s, that’s for sure). I also saw a copy of an email that Greg Holman sent to Asaf with details about the steps he would take when Burton dies in order to protect the art pieces in the Apollo Gallery and prepare the ground for Asaf’s return to power. [Bolds added] It’s not difficult to understand Holman’s logic: The cult will need a leader and Dorian is too shady (on top of that his meetings are incomprehensible). Asaf looks like a “nice guy”, people were able to follow his meetings, and he proved that he is able to attract young people with his BePeriod “online school”. At any rate, Dorian Matei and Rowena Taylor would never let the coup happen without putting up a fight, that’s for sure.

May be I’m wrong and after Burton passes away there will be no war and the FOF will slowly fade away, similarly to what is happening to the Ananda group in Nevada City after the death of its founder Swami Kriyananda. The main difference between Ananda and the FOF is that Kriyananda was prosecuted for sexual abuse like Burton but he didn’t accumulate wealth; considering that there are millions of dollars in art pieces in the Apollo Gallery, my gut feeling is that there will be a war for power.

We shall see.

[ed. - "Cult Survivor" returned to the Fellowship of Friends in 2021, and "completed their task" June 1, 2022.]


"amesgilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 26, 2021:

Ton2u, in #47, above, you provide a link to the November 4th 1996 LA Times article. Thanks, and it brings up a point I think would bear some further research, should Jennings Brown or some other intrepid explorer ever feel up to it. Which is, why do some people that have escaped, return?

Here’s the quote from the article, headlined, Trouble Taints a Cerebral Sanctuary, by Jenifer Warren

For years I ignored or justified a lot of things, but this I could not ignore,” said Pamella Cavanna, 54, who left the fellowship last year after devoting two decades and more than $250,000 to Burton and his teachings. “A teacher should have moral standards that we aspire to. Instead, Robert has standards we are forced to overlook.

I actually talked to this lady around the time she left (over the Troy Buzbee scandal), and we certainly agreed that Burton, if he was sincere in his ridiculous claim that he was a “goddess in a man’s body”, would surely be more than usually empathic to women in general and women in the Fellowship of Friends specifically. But, we both recognized at the time, he is not. Far from it, he is a noted misogynist, and unless they are of immediate use, that is, able to give him lots of money or willing use their powers and influence to advance his selfish aims, he often treats his female followers with open contempt and cruelty.
Yet, despite this, she did rejoin, and AFAIK, is still a member and still living in Oregon House.

Another example from that time that I have personal knowledge of is a lady who not only left and then rejoined, but when I met with her once by chance, tried to persuade me to rejoin as well, adding as a final inducement, “I know that Robert would forgive you”.


Words failed me then and now.

A decade later, she had left again, and AFAIK, is still living in Oregon House.

The number of people who have left and then rejoined is probably in the many dozens. What is going on? There must be some serious psychological issues to study, maybe even a PhD in it for someone. And in parallel, what is happening within the membership when the stray sheep returns to the fold? I remember a couple of times feeling very glad, even vindicated in some subtle way, when I heard someone had returned. It bolstered my belief system, for sure.

If Jennings can find the answers, I for one would be glad to support a call to name the phenomenon, “Jennings Syndrome” or something similar, in honor of his discoveries.


"WhaleRider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 27, 2021:

It’s no mystery why a person may rejoin a cult IMO, given how addictive the dopamine hit is being subjected to “love bombing”.

It’s the same reason people relapse on drugs and alcohol despite the damage it causes.

On the other hand, there is a condition known as “battered person/woman syndrome”, whereby a person is rendered passive and dependent by not only repeated violence, but emotional abuse as well, coupled with a poor support system outside the abusive relationship.


"amesgilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 7, 2021:

Now that Dorian Mattei must turn his mind to more pressing things other than churning out massive mountains of meaningless mush and collecting the $$$ on behalf of Burton and the organization, I wonder if there is not a sense of despair amongst the members of the Fellowship of Friends. I mean, Burton is in his dotage, Dorian is in serious trouble, Sasha makes even less sense than Dorian, and any insider is going to have his or hands full if they tried to take over and instill some direction to the lives of the sheep.

What to do, what to do? the cry goes up.

I bet I’m not the only one who has come up with the answer. [See "Cult Survivor" above]

Send a team to Israel and negotiate the return of Asaf Braverman!

Yup, offer Asaf the imperial purple, and the future throne. He’s had years of practice, he knows the place, he knows the politics, he has the words down pat. Not for him the iPad that seems surgically implanted on Dorian’s arm, he is the master of extemporaneous bullshit and projection of certainty. And he has the great advantage of being well spoken, and speaking English fluently. Plus, I’m sure his wife would very much welcome coming home to the U.S.

There would have to be, ahem, certain adjustments within the Fellowship, to be sure. But no impediments that a few well–chosen words and surgically precise actions by the powers–that–be could not overcome.

Of course, Dorian relinquishes his present role as anointed successor to ‘spend more time with his family’, maybe back in Romania (after justice is done and he has paid his dues), Sasha gets to return to something more suited to his abilities, like taking out the garbage, Rowena gets to open a new center in say, the slums of Rio, and Linda gets to clean the floors in an orphanage of her choice. Plus, a dozen of the rest, you know and we know who you are! All centers of rebellion or trouble out of the way, whoosh! A clean sweep and an auspicious start for the next Emperor of Oregon House.

And I’m sure there would be great rejoicing amongst the majority of the flock!

[ed. - See also "Ames Gilbert's liberation plea"]

"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 27, 2021:

It’s probably just a meaningless coincidence, but it is of interest that a certain M@ri0 F@ntoni, who left the Fellowship in 2016 to become of one of Asaf’s key supporters and technical advisors, recently rejoined the Fellowship.

Monday, November 15, 2021

"An Expert Explains Cult Recovery"

[ed. - This discussion is hosted by Lloyd Evans, who was raised a Jehovah's Witness and is now an apostate. From Wikipedia, "Janja Lalich is best known as a foremost expert on cults and coercion, charismatic authority, power relations, ideology and social control. She is a professor emerita of sociology at the California State University, Chico." Dr. Lalich is familiar with The Fellowship of Friends.

(While Evans has recently been dogged by his own scandal, it doesn't diminish the value these two authorities have for current cult members seeking to escape, or for former members trying to understand and process their cult experience.)]

(Part 1) with Alexandra Stein, PhD

(Part 2) with Janja Lalich, PhD

Saturday, November 13, 2021

"Robert Earl Burton: Californian guru devoted to finer things in life accused of sex assaults"

[ed. - The following article appears in The Times of London. (It appears the author must have seen a CliffsNotes version of Jennings Brown's original investigative journalism.)]

Robert Earl Burton: Californian guru devoted to finer things in life accused of sex assaults

Charlie Mitchell

Saturday November 13 2021, 12.01am GMT

The Times
Robert Earl Burton, now in his 80s, has not responded to the allegations

When a charismatic leader established a would-be utopia devoted to fine art, higher consciousness and the production of wine in 1970s California, it drew hundreds of devotees from across America.However, Robert Earl Burton’s teachings soon grew more apocalyptic and allegations of sexual exploitation began to trickle out. Burton is alleged to have abused scores of male followers, particularly those who were young, attractive and heterosexual. There are claims of sex rituals, dubbed “love fests”, where Burton would attempt to have sex with 100 followers in a day.

A podcast called Revelations, the product of three years of work by Jennings Brown, an American investigative journalist, is now lifting the lid on the Fellowship of Friends, which today has about 1,600 members.

Burton next a piece of European art at the Fellowship of Friends property in 1981
Gary Fong/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images
[ed. - This photo shows Burton back when he called shaving "barbaric," no pun intended.]

“It sounded stranger than fiction,” Brown, who first learnt of the cult while speaking to the husband of the American spiritual leader Teal Swan, told Spending time there was “surreal”. He added: “It was fascinating being around all these incredibly brilliant, articulate, kind people who were all out in this world that felt separated from the world that I knew.” But soon, amid whispers of sex rituals, he realised “there was so much more going on.”

Life on the 1,200-acre Apollo compound in Oregon House, California, was always dictated by Burton’s whims. The former Arkansas teacher, now in his early 80s, recast himself as a guru in the 1970s after developing the teachings of George Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic, and his Fourth Way school of self-awareness. Burton preached full immersion in high art and the abolition of negative thoughts. His mission, according to the podcast, was to start a new refined civilisation that would emerge from the approaching apocalypse.

Sport, humour, glasses, using the word “I” and even pregnancy were forbidden. Adherents were encouraged to take up ballet, painting and classical music. They also funded his “Galleria”, an impressive collection of mostly European artwork, kept in his home. Women were thought to be spiritually inferior, Brown claims.

“Nathan”, one of dozens of current and former members interviewed by the journalist, claimed that Burton insisted his wife terminate their child. “His explanation was that the child would be born too soon to be included on the ark. And being the fool that I was, I accepted the explanation,” Nathan said. “It wasn’t my best act here on Earth. My wife didn’t agree to it. It was kind of against her will.”

In 1996 a lawsuit was filed by Troy Buzbee, a former member, who claimed Burton abused him. The suit was settled out of court. By then, the community was large enough to have outposts in Paris and London, Brown said. When the Buzbee allegations made recruiting in America harder, they started recruiting more aggressively in Latin America and Russia.

The group was once investigated by immigration officials for allegedly bringing foreign recruits into the US on religious visas, Brown said, before coercing them into sexual slavery. No charges were brought. Prosecutors cite difficulties in pursuing religious groups, who are protected by the First Amendment.

The group has not responded publicly to the claims laid out in Revelations. However, Greg Holman, its president, told Brown he did not believe the assault allegations were true but that any community member was welcome to come to him with facts and evidence.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

"Sex rituals and fine wines: Inside alleged Cali cult the Fellowship of Friends"

 [ed. - The following article appears in the New York Post. Also see The Times of London's reporting, Robert Earl Burton: Californian guru devoted to finer things in life accused of sex assaults.]

Sex rituals and fine wines: Inside alleged Cali cult the Fellowship of Friends 

By Sara Stewart
November 9, 2021
7:25pm Updated 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

"We totally got away with it."

Fellowship of Friends - "A non-profit religious organization" (

"We never started out as a religion of any kind. The fact that the Fellowship is running around now saying that it's a religion is a result of the (IRS) audit. So, we made up the religion of the Fellowship of Friends to cover the fact that, otherwise, it was just Robert doing whatever the hell he wanted.

"And we wrote the Canons of the Fellowship, all of its philosophies and everything, and that's what we presented to the IRS to justify ourselves. So, in a way, it was all a lie." 

 - Charles Randall, former Fellowship of Friends CFO (from "Revelations Act V")

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

SFGATE reports on the "Revelations" podcast

[ed. - Published in the SFGATE, October 27, 2021. Text of story follows. You can also hear Jennings Brown interviewed on the "Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and the Abuse of Power" podcast series.]

New podcast investigates abuse accusations at the NorCal cult that pioneered natural wine

'Revelations' pulls back the curtain on Fellowship of Friends

Nearly everything about the Fellowship of Friends feels like the stuff of fiction. In the 1970s, a charismatic leader builds a community devoted to high art and higher consciousness. The burgeoning group plants a vineyard 2.5 hours north of San Francisco and finds itself at the vanguard of the natural wine movement. The teaching turns apocalyptic, but the end of the world stubbornly fails to arrive. And then, as so often is the case, the absolute power corrupts the man in charge without consequence.

But the story of the Fellowship is all too real. And in a new podcast from the journalist Jennings Brown, which premiered this month on Spotify, allegations of abuse by the charismatic leader Robert Burton are laid out in chilling detail over the course of six episodes. With “Revelations,” Brown takes us to the Fellowship’s compound in Oregon House, California, and then shows us how Burton used his perch atop the Fellowship to allegedly abuse scores of young male followers for years. Brown hopes that finally, two decades after the first allegations were made public, there will be justice for the survivors.

In November 2017, at another commune called Teal Tribe, Brown had a fateful conversation. He was working on his Gizmodo podcast “The Gateway,” which told the story of Teal Swan, a controversial social-media savvy guru with a fervently devoted following. “I was out at her healing retreat center in Costa Rica, which was weirdly similar to ‘Nine Perfect Strangers,’” Brown tells me over Zoom from his Brooklyn apartment. 

Swan’s then-husband Ale Gicqueau mentioned that his own awakening had begun at a compound in Northern California with a spiritual group called the Fellowship of Friends, but he eventually came to see the Fellowship as a predatory cult. “But the way [Gicqueau] described it, it just seemed like this fantasy land,” says Brown. “This strange Shangri-La out in the wilderness where they had this giant vineyard and were collecting Renaissance art and had an amphitheater and this pantheon of 44 angels, that included Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt and da Vinci. I’m just like, ‘What the hell is this?’”

Brown filed the information away, eventually returning to what he believed would be a magazine feature in 2018. It proved to be fortuitous timing. Burton had predicted that October 2018 would be an Armageddon; after the collapse, their sprawling property out in Oregon House, California, would serve as a Noah’s Ark of sorts from which to restart society. 

To Brown’s surprise, he was invited to attend the End Times event at Apollo, the name Burton had given his 1,200-acre forested compound. “So, I was there for their final black-tie dinner before the end of the world,” Brown says. “I mean, as a journalist, I was like, ‘How often am I going to get a chance to see an apocalyptic group in the days leading up to their predicted apocalypse?’ I thought that was the story.”

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Jennings Brown interviewed on "Trust Me" podcast

[ed. - The following 1-hour and 20-minute podcast features an interview with Jennings Brown about his "Revelations" podcast and The Fellowship of Friends. Click on banner below to download the podcast, or visit to listen to the podcast. (The interview begins 7 minutes into the podcast.)]

#51: Jennings Brown: Investigating the Fellowship of Friends

Jennings Brown, reporter and host of cult podcasts The Gateway and Revelations, discusses life on the lavish compound of the Fellowship of Friends leading up to their doomsday date, why people cling to their prophecies when they don't come true, allegations of sexual assault against the group's leader, and the orgy that was compared to a trip to the DMV.

If you have your own story about cults, high-control groups, manipulation, or abuse of power, leave us a voicemail at 513-900-2955, OR shoot us an email at








Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Robert Burton's inability to "be the words"

"Right action is the way the Self proceeds in relation to conscience."

- Robert Burton, Via Del Sol January 16, 1973  Volume 2  Number 13

Robert Earl Burton at Mount Carmel (aka The Farm) - 1974

Photo: Drew Kampion

[ed. - Robert Burton's preoccupation with sex has been described in many testimonies to be on a most carnal level. The following quotations from 1972 show Robert ("R.") has been incapable of "being the words" he has preached from the very beginning.]

 "Via Del Sol" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 7, 2007:

Early in its history, the Fellowship of Friends produced a printed publication (published approximately once a week), called “Via Del Sol”. This issue (Volume 2 Number 9, December 19th 1972) featured a collection of Robert Burton’s intellectual gems and purest distillation of his high understanding on the subject of sex. Italics are in the original.

Physical sex, in its deepest meaning, is designed to perpetuate the species, and insure nature of a vehicle for transmitting planetary and celestial influences to the earth. Man’s physical pleasures are secondary to this aim, and, in general, a by–product of nature’s hidden aim.

The sex center is not an intelligent brain. It has a dull, plant–like intelligence. At times, it is quite a vulgar brain, and may be easily aroused by uncivilized levels of intelligence.

If a person has a full relationship with another, then sex may be a part of the whole. Without this factor, then one is in tramp and their sex life does not relate well with the mass or whole of their being.

Humans have been tricked by having their sex organs covered or hidden since birth, making them appear mysterious. This is why some people move from person to person having sex. They try to discover (or steal) what is hidden about the other person, and having found the secret move onto another person seeking the same hollow goal.

To have sexual relations with a partner who is at a lower level of being is to be in tramp. Flirtations are a form of tramp in sex and are sex energy leaks.

Martians, as a [body] type, have the least need or desire to abstain from sex. Mercuries follow them in this area.

The machine creates enormous quantities of sex energy; nevertheless, when we lose sex energy, it can be a weary day.

Most men deviate in the quest for their Self by being engulfed in a woman’s problems, which she often offers a man as a means to gain his attention. Women put themselves to sleep by being conditioned to accept a subservient role to men. This refers to machines in both cases and not thyself. One of the ways schools in the past avoided this mechanical manifestation was through monasteries. The higher we can raise our level, it will be seen we are a vacuum moving amongst life, each a monastery amongst humanity.

It is not generally harmful for students to be at a level in their life where they are confused about sex aims. They may fluctuate between a desire to engage in sex and a desire to abstain. Remember the Self is born as a result of friction; and sex is most often an area of friction.

The sex center is a machine designed to seek out its magnetic opposite in physical union. It does not care for abstinence or transcending itself.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Jennings Brown reports on 3-year investigation of Fellowship of Friends

[ed. - The following podcast announcement comes from The series also receives mentions on SFGATE, Distractify, geektyrant, Gizmodo, and 1428elm, where The Fellowship of Friends appears in the "true crime" category. Primal Stream Media also reviews the podcast, calling it a candidate for the best podcast of 2021, and lists "Revelations" among the top 25 podcasts of 2021.]

A doomsday cult in Northern California known by wine lovers for their vintage is set to be the subject of a new podcast series from Blumhouse Television and Vespucci.

Spotify will launch Revelations, which premieres on October 3, hosted by The Gateway’s Jennings Brown.

The six-part series tells the story of the Fellowship of Friends, which was founded by Robert Earl Burton, an East Bay schoolteacher who began preaching out of a van in Berkeley in the 1960s before founding the fellowship in 1970 and building it up to around 2,500 members.

The group ran the successful Renaissance Vineyard and Winery between 1982 and 2015.

The series comes from Spotify’s Parcast, created in partnership with Blumhouse Television and Vespucci, the company behind Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Mask of Sanity audio series and Mamoudou Athie’s Chighali. Gilded Audio also produces.

“The echos of NXIVM in Revelations are sadly all too familiar, and make this story Jennings Brown uncovered all the more necessary listening,” said Chris McCumber, president Blumhouse Television.

“After three years of meticulous and unflinching reporting from Jennings, we are delighted for this story to finally come to light. Jennings has an uncanny ability to balance the tightrope of hard hitting journalism and intimate portraits of survival,” added Vespucci co-founders Daniel Turcan and Johnny Galvin.

Jennings Brown added, “I’m glad to finally be sharing the story of the Fellowship of Friends, its members, and its survivors—and I hope this series leaves listeners with a better understanding of the dynamics of spiritual abuse. I appreciate that Vespucci and Gilded Audio understood and supported this story from the beginning, and I’m grateful that Blumhouse Television, Parcast, and Spotify are helping us tell it.”



The Fellowship of Friends is an elite and secretive spiritual organization. Ex-members say it’s a doomsday cult and that its leader, Robert Earl Burton, preys on his followers. On October 20, 2018, journalist Jennings Brown was at the Fellowship’s extravagant compound, observing the final black-tie dinner before the end of the world. Robert had predicted the apocalypse was going to begin the next morning and Jennings wanted to report on the community as it prepared for a global catastrophe. But Jennings soon realized the end-times prophecy was just the beginning of the story. He’d spend the next three years investigating the Fellowship and its dark secrets. Revelations is a Spotify Original from Parcast. Produced by Blumhouse Television, Vespucci, Gilded Audio, Jennings Brown, and Dan Rosato. Hosted by Jennings Brown.

If you have any information you’d like to share about the Fellowship of Friends, please email or leave a voicemail at 347-480-3527.

This series includes discussions of sexual violence. If you are a survivor of sexual assault and need to talk to someone, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673 or visit If you are outside the U.S., Pathways Safety International can be reached at 833.SAFE.833.














[ed. - The following link comes from Jennings Brown's Instagram page: The Art of the Scam: The Best Books, Podcasts, and Documentaries About Cults compiled by Alex McElroy.]


"44thWay" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 11, 2021:

#4 Nevasayneva

I agree. I just finished listening to Act VI. The whole series is an admirable piece of work, and I’m amazed at what Jennings Brown managed to do. It also must have required a lot of time editing and putting together. If someone wants to send him a bottle of champagne, I’ll chip in.

I also found it disturbing from the point of view of one who was a member for 27 years. Jennings Brown found out things very quickly that I didn’t know in all that time, and some of which I did not know until I listened to the series. Yes, Elena (#1,2) I was aware of your picketing but I didn’t know what it was about and didn’t find out because Robert forbade us to talk to you.

For me it is particularly disorientating, as one who takes pride in being rational, to realise that I isolated a whole structure of beliefs from critical analysis. I also didn’t enquire further on the rare occasions when someone claimed an injustice. Yet on that score, even if only peripherally, I am guilty.

At least I left when Robert claimed that the Absolute had visited him in the rose garden for a cup of tea or whatever (did the Absolute suck Robert’s dick or did I misunderstand?).

How anyone could stay after that is hard to understand.


 "ton2u" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, November 10, 2021:

I’ll add my thanks here to Jennings Brown and associates for their good works – a public service shedding light on dark places.

Re: picketing the compound, I agree with Ames… from personal experience, back when I lived at “Renaissance” Dorota Star owned a house and property just behind the FOF garden … (a garden as I recall, which kept growing in size and production under Robbie Lichtenberg’s green thumb). After Dorota left the school she regularly made visible efforts to “raise hell” out there on her property demonstrating her anger and outraging at Burden [sic] and the organization supporting him.

At the time, while living inside the “Renaissance” bubble and as a “dyed in the wool true believer” of the lies, I know myself and others of a similar mindset only grew more convinced of our own ‘righteousness’ as Dorota’s protestations continued. I’m pretty sure the same sort of mindset yet persists inside the FOF and certain types of actions will only make the “faithful” more so.

(Wonder whatever happened to Dorota and Robbie?)

As for blind obedience to a blundering oracle, some are unable and will never see the follow-ship of fools for what it is – all frivolous folly designed to fleece the flock in support of the so-called “goddess” masquerading as a man.

A phrase comes to mind: ‘let the dead bury the dead.’


"Nevasayneva" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, November 11, 2021:

Re 44th way. [above]

We were all in the dark to one extent or another while in FOF. The editing of the Jennings Brown podcast is amazing.

Although as per podcast FOF may say – move along move along, nothing to see here, few current FOF members or ex-FOF members will have heard the legal opinions of Ford Greene or Moira Penza (Act V)

Moira Penza Act V

“There is no law against being a cult. The law is against using force, fraud or coercion to have someone engage in specific sex acts”

If I had been mixed up in any force, fraud or coercion, I certainly would not like to find myself across a table from someone like Moira Penza.


"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 13, 2022:

Although this YouTube review,, has limited added value to anyone who has listened to the “Revelations” podcast series about the Fellowship, it is of note that the reviewer considers Revelations to be a candidate for the best podcast of 2021.


"diegoriverassquaretrouserleg" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 14, 2022:

Thanks #82 Insider [above]

I hope the Revelations podcast is a winner and that it and the Fellowship get the attention they rightfully deserve.

Sad to hear those institutionalised old fogeys whacking on about the Gods and poetic beauty.

“Have you ever thought that the God’s wanted a reporter here on the eve of the prediction ?” Says one idiot convinced that Geoffrey Chaucer and Abraham Lincoln have arranged for Jennings Brown to be on hand to witness the fall of California and report favorably on the event. Have you thought that you’ve become a demented buffoon? is my question to you.

He’s parroting the vain, absurd delusions he’s absorbed from Robert Burton, it’s Bobspeak and is characteristic of the true believers of the Fellowship’s inner circle. He’s blissfully unaware that after decades of membership and work on himself he is by now, like so many of them, a psychotic liar who’s convinced he has a working relationship with Socrates and Queen Elizabeth the 1st of England.

“No one lives with this kind of poetry, It’s filled with beauty in every corner, it’s a reflection of our teacher” Says a female version of Uncle Bob, who waxes lyrical about the gauche, decaying, ghastly imitation of taste that passes for proof of genius in Uncle Bob’s Nouveau riche Neverland compound. A chimp on acid in an antiques mall would do a better job at amassing the, “fine impressions” the cult members will enjoy with smug self satisfaction post armageddon and would only require a banana or two in payment.


"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 14, 2022:

83. diego… [above]

Yes, Nick and Judy (and John B and Greg and Peter and Marcus and even Burton) thought they could blind Jennings with fancy receptions in the gardens, unlimited quantities of the best wine, Shakespeare at night in the Theatron, plus all the “uncreated light” and wisdom emanating from Burton and his minions of “conscious” followers floating about Apollo in an endless state of bliss.

But Jennings was not to be blinded by the external show. He never forgot the deep secrets that were being hidden by all the glitter and finery. He knew it was all a fraud despite the “beauty in every corner.”


"diegoriverassquaretrouserleg" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, January 16, 2022:

The twenty five best podcasts of 2021

1 of 25

Jennings Brown’s previous podcast, The Gateway: Teal Swan, told the story of one woman’s passionate following and examined whether it was, in fact, a toxic cult. In Spotify’s six-part Revelations, Brown investigates the Fellowship of Friends, a California cult (and until 2015, a winery!), and the multiple sexual assault allegations against its founder, Robert Earl Burton.

Speaking with nearly 100 current and former members and paying visits to Apollo, the Fellowship’s compound, Brown’s own revelations include uncovering a possible sex trafficking operation. Ultimately, believers’ blind devotion to the morally questionable Burton is as fascinating as it is bone-chilling.

Friday, October 1, 2021

"Lawmaker shot at Jonestown compares Trump to cult leader Jim Jones"

[ed. - The following is from See also, "Take It From a Former Moonie: Trump Is a Cult Leader" and "Fellowship congregation prohibited from following President Trump".]

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who was shot by members of the Peoples Temple during the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, says she sees similarities between cult leader Jim Jones and former President Donald Trump in the way they use their charisma to connect with disillusioned American and act as "merchants of deceit." Speier was shot five times on an airstrip in Guyana while accompanying a lawmaker to investigate the nearby cult.

More on this interview at Reliable Sources.

Friday, September 24, 2021

"Plaza Denizen Ran 'Secret Cult' Masquerading As Study Group: Suit"

[ed. - The legacy of Alex Horn, Robert Burton's Fourth Way teacher, continues to be revealed in tabloid headlines.]

The New York Post

By Kathianne Boniello and Lee Brown

The late Odyssey Study Group leader and Plaza Hotel resident Sharon Gans allegedly forced members to clean, shop, chauffeur, and hand over hundreds in monthly fees, a new lawsuit contends.
Odyssey Study Group Christmas party 1997.

Two women claim they were duped into becoming unpaid servants for a secretive Manhattan cult, run by a one-time actress who had a bit part in “Slaughterhouse-Five”— and has long faced accusations of bilking her acolytes. 

The Odyssey Study Group was run by Sharon Gans Horn, who died in January at age 86 and had a decades-long alleged history of siphoning cash from adoring followers to support her wealthy lifestyle, including posh homes.

Stephanie Rosenberg and Marjorie Hochman said they signed up for Horn’s Odyssey Study Group in 2005 because they believed it would “help improve their lives economically, physically and spiritually,” according to a Manhattan Supreme Court class-action lawsuit they filed against the cult and its leaders.

But instead of finding enlightenment and growth, Rosenberg and Hochman shelled out $400 monthly cash “membership fees” and slaved away as cooks, cleaners and recruiters, according to their jointly filed lawsuit.

Alex Horn and Sharon Gans who ran a local theater program, are accused of running a cult.
One-time actress Sharon Gans Horn had an alleged history of siphoning cash from followers to support her wealthy lifestyle.
Hearst Newspapers via Getty Image

“All they received for their labor was trauma, emotional distress and other injuries,” they charged in court papers.

“The members of the cult made [Horn] and others very rich” — with the late leader living in “an $8 million dollar condominium in the Plaza Hotel” with other “properties around the United States and in Mexico,” the suit said.

OSG “lined its pockets” on the backs of Rosenberg and Hochman, “lying to its members that it was an honor, privilege and a step to self-improvement to serve the leaders of OSG,” charge the two women.

They are seeking unspecified damages “to recover unpaid wages for many hours of labor” — as well as reimbursement of their monthly $400 membership dues “plus interest.”

Rosenberg and Hochman showed up early for Odyssey’s twice-weekly, secret meetings to set up, cook food for fellow members that they bought with their own money, stayed to clean up, and spent hours roping in new members, they alleged in the litigation.

They even acted as “personal assistants, cooks, housekeepers, drivers, and personal shoppers” for Horn, according to the legal papers.

Odyssey Study Group Christmas party 1997. Members of Sharon Gans' so-called Theater of All Possibilities had come forward to claim they were pushed into marriages, beaten if they didn't sell tickets and had gone broke paying for classes -- while Gans lived it up in a tony home.
The Odyssey Study Group was run by Sharon Gans Horn, who died in January at age 86.

The lawsuit also noted how the cult “has been alleged to have engaged in systematic physical and mental abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, private adoptions, arranged marriages, and financial crimes.”

The two women believed if they left the group, they would be shunned, cut off from the community “that had … become his or her entire world,” the lawsuit claimed.

Members of Sharon Gans' so-called Theater of All Possibilities had come forward to claim they were pushed into marriages, beaten if they didn't sell tickets and had gone broke paying for classes.
Members of Sharon Gans’ so-called Theater of All Possibilities came forward to claim they were pushed into marriages and beaten if they didn’t sell tickets.

Rosenberg finally escaped in 2019, and Hochman got out in 2016, the lawsuit said. 

The cult was co-founded by Horn and her late husband, Alex Horn, in San Francisco in the 1970s — moving to New York in the 1980s when accusations of abuse and financial misdeeds became public, the suit said.

The suit names Minnerva Taylor, Lorraine Imlay, Greg Koch and Ken Salaz as surviving leaders to whom Horn bequeathed her interest in the cult in her will. It also names Michael Horn as a co-executor of her estate.

A number listed for the Odyssey Study Group is now out of service.

A response to the lawsuit had not been filed as of Friday morning, and it was not clear if those named had attorneys for the case. Attempts to reach those named were not immediately successful Friday.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The fourth way to nowhere is published

The fourth way to nowhere by Martin Braybrooke

The fourth way to nowhere: The search for cosmic consciousness and the triumph of the ordinary

a quest for the meaning of life, a critical analysis of the esoteric system of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky,
and my 27-years in a fourth way cult

By Martin Braybrooke

[ed. - Martin was a member of the Fellowship of Friends for 27 years. His blog can be found here.]

"44thWay" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 26, 2021:

My book, ‘The fourth way to nowhere’ is almost ready. Readers of this forum will probably feel that I pull some of my punches, and some may prefer that I would have performed a more overtly aggressive demolition. Certainly some of the material on this forum and on the REB blog would merit that. However I have explicitly confined my commentary to what I myself witnessed, referring readers to the blog in the footnotes, and I think in the end the demolition is quite thorough. Perhaps it will lure some current members into reading it. I have not used my real name for personal reasons, although I would not be ashamed to be associated with what I have written if that were my only concern. I hope at least some of you will buy the book and post honest reviews on Amazon, even if you hate the book.

 Author's introduction on Amazon:

My father was by turns a Quaker, a Catholic and a Buddhist, my mother an atheist, and my primary school teacher believed that her dog was the reincarnation of her previous dog. Thus I grew up a natural skeptic. It is odd, therefore, that I ended up believing a large number of the unprovable fragments of an unknown teaching that is Ouspensky and Gurdfjieff's fourth way, as embellished by the leader of a modern fourth way cult.

This book is a careful critique of a whole set of beliefs related to, but not exclusive to, the fourth way path of inner development. At the same time it is a personal history of how the author, despite a modern education, got drawn into a cult, and believed (to quote the White Queen in Alice), at least 'six impossible things before breakfast.'

Those readers already familiar with the fourth way, and perhaps even members of one or other of the organisations that have sprung up in connection with it, should find the analysis in this book useful and perhaps challenging. There are indeed ideas in the fourth way worth considering, not least the idea of self-remembering, which has a lot in common with more recent movements such as mindfulness. There are other ideas which are questionable, or remain to be proven, such as the fourth state of consciousness or the idea of recurrence: Ouspensky's version of re-incarnation. No genuine seeker after truth should be deterred from asking her- or himself, "what do I really know, what is merely provisional, and what is likely to turn out to be wrong?"

This is also a plea that one aim of any spiritual or psychological practice or movement should be kindness, if humanity is to survive the various catastrophes that now threaten it, and an assertion that aspirants to self-development can arrive, with the right efforts, at a place where it is no small achievement to be content to be ordinary.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Kevin Lloyd files complaint against Google, LLC

[ed. - This is the complaint Kevin Lloyd brought against Google, Advanced Systems Group and Does 1 through 20.] 



Kevin Lloyd (Credit: Will Matsuda, NYT)

Monday, July 26, 2021

Dorian Matei involved in fatal Browns Valley crash

Dorian Matei to Robert Earl Burton - You might want to check your zipper
Dorian Matei counsels the effete Robert Earl Burton

[ed. - I have placed this post in the timeline on the date the accident occurred. The following article comes from the Johnson Attorney Group.]

YUBA COUNTY, Calif. (July 26, 2021) — A Browns Valley Road motorcycle accident happened Monday afternoon at Marysville Road.

The collision happened about 1:02 p.m. on July 26th on road also known as State Highway 20, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Two motorcycle riders and a white Toyota Sienna minivan collided due to unknown circumstances at the intersection. The two-way roadway has double yellow lines and there is a stop sign for motorists on Marysville Road, but not on the highway. Also, there is a 76 Service Station at the corner of the intersection. It’s unknown what actually led to the collision at this time.

Tow trucks removed all three vehicles from the crash scene including the Harley-Davidson Road King and a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, the report said.

Paramedics responded due to at least one person suffering major injuries. The CHP report [below] did not provide any further details about the collision at this time.

However, this article will be updated as more information is made available. 

Investigators seek to determine liability for the Browns Valley motorcycle accident.


[ed. - Dorian Matei, Robert Earl Burton's presumed successor, was driving the Fellowship of Friends-owned Toyota Sienna minivan involved in this collision with two motorcycles. While we have few details about the accident, a Washington State law firm representing the two motorcyclists injured in the collision has assigned a private investigator to the case. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched by the couple's daughter: Mike and Sherri's Medical Fund. The following statements appear on that campaign's webpage:]

Mike and Sherri were involved in a motorcycle accident on July 26 2021 while on a road trip. They were traveling to their next destination along Highway 20 in California when they were struck by a van. Both Mike and Sherri have sustained substantial injuries.

Sherri is in Sacramento, CA, where she is continuing to receive care from the trauma team in the ICU for her critical injuries.

Mike is in Marysville, CA recovering from a head injury and awaiting surgery to repair a shattered leg along with other injuries.

All contributions will go towards medical costs for Mike and Sherri and to assist the family's ability to be by their side during this time. We appreciate your help and keep us in your thoughts.

Thank you.

Venmo can be used as an alternative.
@devonbaxter (link defunct)



August 11, 2021 by Shannon TomakOrganizer
My family and I would like to say thank you to all who have donated and helped share our story, we are truly grateful.

Mike is being released from the hospital after a series of successful surgeries to repair his leg. He will be continuing to recover with physical and cognitive therapy over the next several months.

Sherri is continuing to receive care in the ICU to regain consciousness. This will be an extremely long road to recovery over the next several months to years. Our goal is get Sherri back to Washington where she can be with her family as soon as possible.

This is an extremely difficult time for our family. We will continue to do our best to update as we learn more in the weeks and months to come.
[ed. - On August 14th, Mike Tomak's sisters, Ang and Amy launched a second GoFundMe campaign, Friends of Mike and Sherri Tomak. The following statements appear on the campaign's webpage:]
Hello our names are Ang and Amy (Hughes) Tomak. We are raising money for our brother and sister-in-law Mike & Sherri Tomak.

Mike and his wife Sherri were involved in a motorcycle accident while visiting California on July 26th of this year. They were riding on Highway 20 when a van pulled out in front of them. Both Mike & Sherri have sustained multiple injuries. Mike's injuries include head trauma and a shattered leg. He endured several surgeries to repair his leg. As of now he is going through both cognitive & physical therapy.
Sherri has been unconscious since the accident. She continues to receive ICU care in the hospital in the hope that she will regain consciousness. They are back home in the state of Washington. Mike grew up in Johnstown and attended Saint Andrews School and Greater Johnstown Vo-Tech. We know there are many people locally who remember growing up with him.

The funds raised will be used for Mike & Sherri's personal expenses since they are unable to work due to their injuries. This has been a very trying time for Mike and both of
their families. We ask that you please pray for their recovery and for strength to help them through this painful time.


[On November 4th, Ang and Amy Tomak posted the following:]
It is with a heavy heart that I share this update. Sherri passed away. Asking for prayers for Mike and family.

[ed. - Below is a transcript of the California Highway Patrol radio communications following the collision. Source:]

"Sarah Allen" wrote on the Yuba Sutter Accidents Crimes Idiots Facebook page, July 29, 2021:
We (my husband and I) were waiting at the stop sign in Browns Valley next to the 76 station for a line of maybe 15/20 cars to go pass so we could make a right turn onto 20 and a white van (who was turning left on the hwy) pulled out into the middle of the line of cars and slammed right into the 2 motorcycles. I know for a fact that both rider were serious hurt, the man had visible injuries but he was talking, I held the gentlemen hand to calm him down. I helped him after I helped the more criticality injured one, the other rider a woman was in critical condition, I did all I could to help stabilize her while the EMT worked to free her from under her bike AND the van that hit her, I just pray that she's alright, I haven't stopped thinking of her or him since it happened. Here is the link if you can help even a share will help get this couples story out.

"Shannon Tomak" wrote on the Mike and Sherri's Medical Fund page, November 8, 2021:

It is with a heavy heart and from a deep state of grief that we share the passing of our beloved Sherri.

We thank you all for all of your thoughts, prayers, photos and memories. Please continue to share as this is how we keep her spirit alive.

To know Sherri was to love Sherri. The pain of losing her will remain for all the years we have left. We are truly grateful for each and every year of love, laughter and friendship that we have shared, it is a true blessing.

Sher, you are forever in our hearts, we love you!


Sherri and Mike Tomak  (Photo: Shannon Tomak)


[ed. - Sherri Lin Tomack's obituary was published in the Statesman Examiner Newspaper February 8 - 9, 2022.]


An anonymous source in Oregon House reported, June 21, 2022:

FYI, a few months ago, Burton was spreading the message that, due to the accident and investigation, Dorian was being '"persecuted" (by the “gods,” of course, just like Christ). No personal responsibility, no remorse; just a “play” the “gods” arranged for Dorian’s evolution.

Monday, July 12, 2021

"What Makes a Cult a Cult?"

[ed. - The following is from The New Yorker July 12 & 19, 2021 issue. The New Yorker podcast of this story is also available.]

All of us hold some beliefs for which there is no compelling evidence.Illustration by Cristiana Couceiro; 
Source photographs from Corbis / Getty; Ferd Kaufman / AP (Children of God); Haruyoshi Yamaguchi /
 Alamy (Aum); Frédéric Soltan / Corbis / Getty (Auroville); Sandhi Satria Graha / EyeEm / Getty
 (mountain); Keiko Hiromi / Alamy (flag)

What Makes a Cult a Cult?

The line between delusion and what the rest of us believe may be blurrier than we think.

Male cult leaders sometimes claim droit du seigneur over female followers or use physical violence to sexually exploit them. But, on the whole, they find it more efficient to dress up the exploitation as some sort of gift or therapy: an opportunity to serve God, an exorcism of “hangups,” a fast track to spiritual enlightenment. One stratagem favored by Keith Raniere, the leader of the New York-based self-help cult NXIVM, was to tell the female disciples in his inner circle that they had been high-ranking Nazis in their former lives, and that having yogic sex with him was a way to shift the residual bad energy lurking in their systems.

According to Sarah Berman, whose book “Don’t Call It a Cult” (Steerforth) focusses on the experiences of NXIVM’s women members, Raniere was especially alert to the manipulative uses of shame and guilt. When he eventually retired his Nazi story—surmising, perhaps, that there were limits to how many reincarnated S.S. officers one group could plausibly contain—he replaced it with another narrative designed to stimulate self-loathing. He told the women that the privileges of their gender had weakened them, turned them into prideful “princesses,” and that, in order to be freed from the prison of their mewling femininity, they needed to submit to a program of discipline and suffering. This became the sales spiel for the NXIVM subgroup DOS (Dominus Obsequious Sororium, dog Latin for “Master of the Obedient Sisterhood”), a pyramid scheme of sexual slavery in which members underwrote their vow of obedience to Raniere by having his initials branded on their groins and handing over collateral in the form of compromising personal information and nude photos. At the time of Raniere’s arrest, in 2018, on charges of sex trafficking, racketeering, and other crimes, DOS was estimated to have more than a hundred members and it had been acquiring equipment for a B.D.S.M. dungeon. Among the orders: a steel puppy cage, for those members “most committed to growth.”

Given that NXIVM has already been the subject of two TV documentary series, a podcast, four memoirs, and a Lifetime movie, it would be unfair to expect Berman’s book to present much in the way of new insights about the cult. Berman provides some interesting details about Raniere’s background in multilevel-marketing scams and interviews one of Raniere’s old schoolmates, who remembers him, unsurprisingly, as an insecure bully. However, to the central question of how “normal” women wound up participating in Raniere’s sadistic fantasies, she offers essentially the same answer as everyone else. They were lured in by Raniere’s purportedly life-changing self-actualization “tech” (a salad of borrowings from est, Scientology, and Ayn Rand) and then whacked with a raft of brainwashing techniques. They were gaslit, demoralized, sleep-deprived, put on starvation diets, isolated from their friends and families, and subjected to a scientifically dubious form of psychotherapy known as neurolinguistic programming. Raniere was, as the U.S. Attorney whose office prosecuted the case put it, “a modern-day Svengali” and his followers were mesmerized pawns.

Until very recently, Berman argues, we would not have recognized the victimhood of women who consented to their own abuse: “It has taken the #MeToo movement, and with it a paradigm shift in our understanding of sexual abuse, to even begin to realize that this kind of ‘complicity’ does not disqualify women . . . from seeking justice.” This rather overstates the case, perhaps. Certainly, the F.B.I. had been sluggish in responding to complaints about NXIVM, and prosecutors were keener to pursue the cult in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but, with or without #MeToo, the legal argument against a man who used the threat of blackmail to keep women as his branded sex slaves would have been clear. In fact, Berman and others, in framing the NXIVM story as a #MeToo morality tale about coerced consent, are prone to exaggerate Raniere’s mind-controlling powers. The fact that Raniere collected kompromat from DOS members strongly suggests that his psychological coercion techniques were not, by themselves, sufficient to keep women acquiescent. A great many people were, after all, able to resist his spiral-eyed ministrations: they met him, saw a sinister little twerp with a center part who insisted on being addressed as “Vanguard,” and, sooner or later, walked away.

It is also striking that the degree of agency attributed to NXIVM members seems to differ depending on how reprehensible their behavior in the cult was. While brainwashing is seen to have nullified the consent of Raniere’s DOS “slaves,” it is generally not felt to have diminished the moral or legal responsibility of women who committed crimes at his behest. Lauren Salzman and the former television actor Allison Mack, two of the five NXIVM women who have pleaded guilty to crimes committed while in the cult, were both DOS members, and arguably more deeply in Raniere’s thrall than most. Yet the media have consistently portrayed them as wicked “lieutenants” who cast themselves beyond the pale of sympathy by “choosing” to deceive and harm other women.

The term “brainwashing” was originally used to describe the thought-reform techniques developed by the Maoist government in China. Its usage in connection with cults began in the early seventies. Stories of young people being transformed into “Manchurian Candidate”-style zombies stoked the paranoia of the era and, for a time, encouraged the practice of kidnapping and “deprogramming” cult members. Yet, despite the lasting hold of brainwashing on the public imagination, the scientific community has always regarded the term with some skepticism. Civil-rights organizations and scholars of religion have strenuously objected to using an unproven—and unprovable—hypothesis to discredit the self-determination of competent adults. Attempts by former cult members to use the “brainwashing defense” to avoid conviction for crimes have repeatedly failed. Methods of coercive persuasion undoubtedly exist, but the notion of a foolproof method for destroying free will and reducing people to robots is now rejected by almost all cult experts. Even the historian and psychiatrist Robert Lifton, whose book “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism” (1961) provided one of the earliest and most influential accounts of coercive persuasion, has been careful to point out that brainwashing is neither “all-powerful” nor “irresistible.” In a recent volume of essays, “Losing Reality” (2019), he writes that cultic conversion generally involves an element of “voluntary self-surrender.”

If we accept that cult members have some degree of volition, the job of distinguishing cults from other belief-based organizations becomes a good deal more difficult. We may recoil from Keith Raniere’s brand of malevolent claptrap, but, if he hadn’t physically abused followers and committed crimes, would we be able to explain why NXIVM is inherently more coercive or exploitative than any of the “high demand” religions we tolerate? For this reason, many scholars choose to avoid the term “cult” altogether. Raniere may have set himself up as an unerring source of wisdom and sought to shut his minions off from outside influence, but apparently so did Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel of Luke records him saying, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Religion, as the old joke has it, is just “a cult plus time.”

Acknowledging that joining a cult requires an element of voluntary self-surrender also obliges us to consider whether the very relinquishment of control isn’t a significant part of the appeal. In HBO’s NXIVM documentary, “The Vow,” a seemingly sadder and wiser former member says, “Nobody joins a cult. Nobody. They join a good thing, and then they realize they were fucked.” The force of this statement is somewhat undermined when you discover that the man speaking is a veteran not only of NXIVM but also of Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, a group in the Pacific Northwest led by a woman who claims to channel the wisdom of a “Lemurian warrior” from thirty-five thousand years ago. To join one cult may be considered a misfortune; to join two looks like a predilection for the cult experience.